Willow Belden

Reporter

Phone: 307-766-5086
Email: wbelden@uwyo.edu 

Willow Belden joined Wyoming Public Radio after earning her masters degree at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. Prior to grad school, Willow spent a year in the Middle East on a Fulbright grant, conducting research in a Palestinian refugee camp, and writing for the Jordan Times and JO Magazine. Upon returning to the U.S., she became a reporter and editor at the Queens Chronicle in New York City and received the Rookie Reporter of the Year award from the New York Press Association. This spring, she received the Pulitzer Traveling Fellowship from Columbia University. When she’s not working on stories, Willow spends her time bicycling, hiking, kayaking and traveling. She can occasionally be spotted on a unicycle. And she has a habit of swimming in the ocean with the Polar Bear Club on New Years Day.

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Open Spaces
4:09 pm
Fri June 7, 2013

Historian Phil Roberts discusses his new book, ‘Cody’s Cave’

Historian Phil Roberts at the University of Wyoming recently published a book called “Cody’s Cave,” which tells the story of a vast set of caverns near Cody. The cave was once a national monument, but was then turned over to local control, and Roberts argues that that was a grave mistake, because the site is now just a hole in the ground, off limits to the public. Roberts joined Wyoming Public Radio’s Willow Belden to talk about the cave, and its demise.

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Open Spaces
3:52 pm
Fri June 7, 2013

Study examines reasons behind decline in migratory elk calves

Credit Photo courtesy Arthur Middleton

Since the 1990s, elk that migrate between Yellowstone National Park and Cody have been raising fewer calves. But the elk that stay in the foothills near Cody year round and don’t migrate have been doing very well. A new study looks at why that’s the case. Wyoming Public Radio’s Willow Belden spoke with the lead author on the report, Arthur Middleton. He says they spent years looking at the elk’s predators and habitat, and how those corresponded to elk pregnancies and overall wellbeing.

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Open Spaces
3:41 pm
Fri June 7, 2013

South Africans strive to limit damage to landscape as elephant populations grow

Elephants at Makalali Game Reserve.
Credit Willow Belden

We’ve reported frequently on efforts to control wildlife numbers in Wyoming, through hunting, contraception, and other means. In southern Africa, wildlife managers face similar challenges, with elephants. In some parts of Africa, elephants are threatened by poaching, but in South Africa they’re flourishing. Some wildlife reserves say they’re multiplying too fast, but others say controlling their numbers is the wrong solution. Wyoming Public Radio’s Willow Belden traveled to South Africa and filed this report.

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Wild horses
6:26 pm
Wed June 5, 2013

Study finds BLM’s wild horse management practices are flawed

Credit worldtravelguide.net

A study by the National Research Council finds that the BLM’s management practices for wild horses are economically unsustainable and lack scientific justification.

  The BLM removes thousands of horses from public lands each year, to maintain a certain population size. But Guy Palmer, chairman of the committee that wrote the report, says the practice is expensive – and fundamentally flawed.

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News
3:10 pm
Mon June 3, 2013

Study examines effects of receding glaciers on streams

Credit John Scurlock

A study, published in the journal Western North American Naturalist, examines how receding glaciers are affecting stream ecosystems in the Wind River Range.

Report co-author Craig Thompson says they studied bugs and other small organisms living in high alpine streams, and they looked at what happens when floods, caused by melting glaciers, wash the organisms downstream.

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Open Spaces
5:09 pm
Fri May 31, 2013

May 31st, 2013

Uranium yellowcake powder

Wyoming missed out on last uranium boom, but planning for the future

Wyoming Public Radio has for years reported that the state is on the verge of a uranium boom. It turns out the state missed the peak of that boom, and is now betting on slower, more conservative growth. Wyoming Public Radio’s Irina Zhorov reports.

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Open Spaces
4:50 pm
Fri May 31, 2013

Study explores effects of receding glaciers on Wind River streams

Glacier in the Wind River Mountain Range
Credit John Scurlock

Glaciers in the Wind River Mountain Range have been receding for a long time, and a new study looks at how that’s affecting the ecosystems in high alpine streams. Wyoming Public Radio’s Willow Belden spoke with Craig Thompson, one of the authors of the report. He’s a professor of engineering and applied science at Western Wyoming Community College, and he’s been studying these glaciers for more than two decades.

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Open Spaces
4:07 pm
Fri May 31, 2013

Sheridan author discusses “Snow Leopard” fable

Sheridan author Tom McIntyre has a new book out called “The Snow Leopard’s Tale.” It’s a story that takes place on a high Tibetan plateau and is written from the point of view of a snow leopard named Xue Bao. Wyoming Public Radio’s Willow Belden spoke with McIntyre about the book, and he described it as more of a fable than a novel.

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News
6:47 am
Wed May 29, 2013

Devils Tower institutes voluntary climbing ban to respect Native Americans

Devils Tower National Monument is asking climbers to avoid the monument during the month of June.

The monument has implemented a voluntary climbing ban each June since 1996 out of respect for Native Americans.

Spokesperson Nancy Stimson says the tower and surrounding areas are sacred to tribal communities, and important ceremonies take place there in June.

Open Spaces
5:22 pm
Fri May 10, 2013

May 10th, 2013

Pollutants including benzene and diesel-range organics have shown up in water wells like this one in the Pinedale Anticline for several years.
Credit Courtesy Linda Baker

Pollutants detected in water wells in Sublette County’s gas fields
Sublette County has been in the news a lot because of its air quality problems, which largely stem from natural gas production. But there’s another issue too: Pollutants have been showing up in water wells. Wyoming Public Radio’s Willow Belden reports.

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Open Spaces
5:06 pm
Fri May 10, 2013

Pollutants detected in water wells in Sublette County’s gas fields

Pollutants including benzene and diesel-range organics have shown up in water wells like this one in the Pinedale Anticline for several years.
Credit Courtesy Linda Baker
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News
6:13 pm
Mon May 6, 2013

New project wants to reduce diabetes on Wind River with gardens

A new project on the Wind River Indian Reservation seeks to reduce diabetes rates by helping tribal families grow their own vegetables. More than 11% of the people on the reservation have diabetes.

The project is a collaboration between community health groups on the reservation, and the University of Wyoming.

Virginia Sutter with Blue Mountain Associates is one of the leaders of the project. She says diabetes rates are high because tribal members have very different diets than they have historically.

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Fracking near parks
9:10 am
Tue April 30, 2013

Group says fracking could harm parks

An advocacy group is warning that fracking could cause air pollution and other problems in national parks.

Sharon Mader with the National Parks Conservation Association says they’re concerned that ozone from gas development in Sublette County could spread to Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. She says that hasn’t happened yet, but they’re worried about the future.

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Open Spaces
5:06 pm
Fri April 26, 2013

April 26th, 2013

Cost of substance abuse in Wyoming is higher than expected
As it addressed issues concerning substance abuse, one thing the state never had were Wyoming specific numbers on the financial impact of substance abuse.  Wyoming Public Radio’s Bob Beck reports that a recent study has found that the cost of alcohol, tobacco and drug abuse is staggering.

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Open Spaces
4:47 pm
Fri April 26, 2013

A conversation with new Democratic Party chair Pete Gosar

Pete Gosar of Laramie is the new chairman of the Wyoming Democratic Party. He says he’s optimistic that the party will be able to gain a better footing in the state in the future.

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Open Spaces
4:36 pm
Fri April 26, 2013

Study says sage grouse have very limited tolerance for development

A study by the U.S. Geological Survey looks at the ecological conditions that sage grouse need in order to survive, and the amount of human disturbance they can tolerate. We’re joined now by Steve Knick, one of the report’s authors. He says the goal was to determine the basic requirements that sage grouse have.

Click here to view the full report.

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Open Spaces
4:12 pm
Fri April 19, 2013

April 19th, 2013

Wyoming's Senators Help Defeat Gun Control
After weeks of intense lobbying on Capitol Hill gun control advocates suffered a stinging defeat this week…in part because of opposition from Wyoming’s two Republican senators. Matt Laslo reports from Washington. 

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Open Spaces
3:59 pm
Fri April 19, 2013

Wyoming develops state-wide suicide prevention initiative

Wyoming has one of the highest rates of suicide in the country … nearly twice the national average. Until recently, efforts at preventing suicide were left up to individual counties. But now, the state is trying a new tactic which they hope will save more lives. Wyoming Public Radio’s Willow Belden reports.

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Open Spaces
3:56 pm
Fri April 19, 2013

Losing two sons to suicide: A conversation with BJ Ayers

We’re joined now by BJ Ayers. Not one, but two of her sons killed themselves … and since then, she’s dedicated her life to trying to prevent suicide. She started the Grace for Two Brothers foundation and is now the suicide prevention coordinator for southeast Wyoming. Her son Brett was 19 when he died in 2005.

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News
9:07 am
Fri April 5, 2013

Study shows more are in favor of Fracking than opposed

A survey by the Pew Research Center shows that more Americans are in favor of fracking than are opposed to it. Forty-eight percent of respondents said they’d like to see an increased use of fracking, while 38 percent said they wouldn’t.

The Pew Center’s Leah Christian says opinions varied by region, but that could be because of prevailing political views in different parts of the country.

“The two regions where we saw the most support – the Midwest and the South – for fracking, those are also more Republican regions of the country,” Christian said.

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News
4:49 pm
Wed April 3, 2013

State engineer seeks input on handling apparent water shortage

The state engineer’s office says in parts of Laramie and Goshen Counties, demand for water appears to exceed supply.

State Engineer Pat Tyrrell says groundwater and surface water are connected in that area, so people who draw down the water in their wells are affecting water in streams, which means less water flows into the Hawk Spring Reservoir. He says there hasn’t been enough water to go around for quite some time.

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Open Spaces
3:53 pm
Fri March 29, 2013

Wild horse “ecosanctuary” to allow horses to roam free off public lands

Every year, the Bureau of Land Management removes thousands of horses from public land in Wyoming. They ship most of the horses to long-term holding facilities in the Midwest. But that’s expensive … and they’re running out of space. So now the BLM has partnered with ranchers to create a so-called horse “ecosanctuary” right here in the Cowboy State. It’s the first of its kind in the nation. Wyoming Public Radio’s Willow Belden reports.

AMBI: Ecosanctuary

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News
6:59 pm
Wed March 20, 2013

DEQ engine emissions study shows significant non-compliance

The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality is wrapping up an engine emissions study it started in May of 2011. The study looks at emissions from engines around the state, like generators running on oil and gas fields, to find out if those emissions are in compliance with air quality laws.

DEQ Air Quality Engineer Jon Walker says operators have traditionally been in charge of monitoring their own engines, but he says that’s not a good system.   

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News
5:50 pm
Fri March 15, 2013

Game and Fish plans to remove brook trout to restore native fish

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department plans to remove non-native fish from a stream in the Bighorn National Forest, in order to restore a native fish that has nearly died out.

The agency would use a chemical to kill off brook trout and then re-stock the stream with Yellowstone cut-throat trout, which are native to Wyoming.

Assistant Fisheries Management Coordinator Mark Smith says cut-throats have not been able to compete with brook trout, which were introduced to the state in the 1930s. He says nearly 90 percent of the cut-throats in the Bighorns have died off already.

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News
5:40 pm
Fri March 15, 2013

DEQ ponders new rules to tackle Sublette County ozone

Credit Dustin Bleizeffer/WyoFile

The Department of Environmental Quality is considering new regulations for the energy industry in Sublette County, in order to address the ozone problem there.

Ozone is a component in smog and can lead to health problems. In Sublette County, it’s caused by emissions from the oil and gas industry.

DEQ’s air quality administrator, Steve Dietrich, says one area they want to focus on is older production equipment that predates the current emissions rules. 

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Open Spaces
3:54 pm
Fri March 15, 2013

March 15th, 2013

Emissions from drilling rigs and other production equipment can cause ozone to form.
Credit Willow Belden

DEQ releases ozone strategy for Sublette County
The Department of Environmental Quality has released a plan for tackling the ozone problem in Sublette County. Emissions from the energy industry there have combined to form a type of pollution called ozone, which can be a health hazard. Ozone levels have been so high that they violate federal standards, and the Environmental Protection Agency has given Wyoming three years to fix the problem.

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Open Spaces
3:34 pm
Fri March 15, 2013

DEQ releases ozone strategy for Sublette County

Emissions from drilling rigs and other production equipment can cause ozone to form.
Credit Willow Belden

BOB BECK: The Department of Environmental Quality has released a plan for tackling the ozone problem in Sublette County. Emissions from the energy industry there have combined to form a type of pollution called ozone, which can be a health hazard. Ozone levels have been so high that they violate federal standards, and the Environmental Protection Agency has given Wyoming three years to fix the problem.

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Open Spaces
3:27 pm
Fri March 15, 2013

NRCS seeks to save Ogallala Aquifer by convincing farmers to abandon water rights

The irrigation pivots at Mike Poelma's farm are defunct, now that he has given up his water rights and switched to dryland agriculture.
Credit Willow Belden

A small corner of southeast Wyoming sits over the Ogallala Aquifer. The Ogallala is a huge aquifer that stretches from Wyoming and Nebraska all the way to Texas. It’s a key source of water for agriculture, but it’s being depleted faster than it can recharge. So the Natural Resources Conservation Service is trying to help save it. Here in Wyoming, they’re doing that by encouraging farmers to give up their water rights. Wyoming Public Radio’s Willow Belden reports.

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